The Colorado House Education Committee gave approval on Monday to a bill by Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, to allow parents to take unpaid leave to attend their children’s essential academic activities. HB17-1001 reenacts the 2009 “Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act” that sunset in 2015 after the reauthorization was killed in the GOP-controlled Senate.
“I have met with teachers, parents and students across the state to talk about this bill and they all made it clear that this would make a difference in their lives,” said Rep. Buckner to the committee. “Passing this bill will create a foundation for all parents to be able to be involved in their child’s education while providing flexibility for employers and their employees to determine what works best for them.”
This bill had no discernible negative impact on businesses when it was law from 2009-2015 and includes safeguards to ensure flexibility for employers and employees to work together. Parents must provide their employer with at least a week’s notice, and can take up to six hours a month with a maximum of 18 hours a year.
Covered activities include parent-teacher conferences or meetings related to special education services, dropout prevention, attendance, truancy or disciplinary issues.
Several people spoke in favor of the bill and the benefits of parental involvement. Xavier Manzanares, 10, told the committee of several times when he has wished his mom and dad could have taken time off of work to attend his academic activities. He described how he felt when they couldn’t be there to review his dry ice science project or attend parent teacher conferences.
“This made me sad. I wanted them to see how much the kids liked my project,” testified Xavier. His grandma brought him to testify because his parents could not take time off of work on Monday.
“I’m asking you to please pass the parental involvement bill,” concluded Xavier. “I would be so happy to see my mom and dad at the science fair this year so they can be proud of me.”
The party-line 7-5 vote sends the bill to the full House for consideration.